Saturday, September 25, 2010

“2012”: The Joys of A Truly Terrible Movie

I turned 59 in July, a big nothing of an event, although next year’s birthday looms large in the psyche. Sixty! How did that happen? —assuming it does happen. Growing older has made me impatient with the sturm und drang of life, all those annoying people and events intruding on us 24/7, whether in newspapers or magazines or the web, or on talk radio or cable news. Just think about this past summer: Glenn Beck, Christine O’Donnell, Lindsay Lohan, the GOP’s Pledge to America, the crackpot Florida “pastor” who threatened to burn the Koran, the theory that Obama is channeling the spirit of his dead father and fostering a Kenyan, anti-colonialism upon America (huh?). Yet these absurdities—and so many more—are treated as news. News that is worthy of coverage and blathering analysis.
As I stand at the checkout counter at Safeway, I gaze at the covers of People, Us, In Touch and their ilk, and more than half the time I have no idea whose faces I’m looking at. To my dismay, I actually know who Kate Gosselin is, but what has Kate Gosselin ever done to merit our interest? Kim Kardashian? Or the morons from “Jersey Shore”? Or . . . well, take your pick.
Without Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert I might begin to believe that the world really is coming to an end.
Which led me the other day to watch a movie—a dreadful, dreadful movie—about that exact topic: the end of the world. “2012” is made by the same “creative team” that gave us “Independence Day” and other disaster films dominated by special effects. In their latest epic, the sun, moon and earth are heading to a perfect alignment that is causing the earth’s core to overheat and the tectonic plates to move (or some such nonsense)—just as the Mayans predicted whenever the Mayans ruled their particular corner of the then non-overheating planet. Oh, yes, this will occur on December 21, 2012, so you might as well drink those martinis and clear out the freezer because nothing will save you—unless you happen to have a billion dollars (the cost per person to board several massive arks) or are deemed essential to the future of the world (which sadly doesn’t really end—what happens is almost all of it is destroyed in loving CGI—I’ll admit to enjoying the scene where Los Angeles slipped into the Pacific, but then I felt guilty because I have good friends there).
“2012” is what I call an “OHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! Movie,” meaning the characters spend much of their time staring off camera at what is supposedly heading their way, causing them to scream: “OHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!”
I won’t bore you with backstories of these characters, except to report that John Cusack plays an aspiring literary novelist who makes ends meet by working as chauffeur to a crass Russian mogul (like there’s any other kind in the movies). Maybe I’m in the minority here, but John Cusack gets on my nerves with his smartest-smuggest-guy-in-the-room routine—a routine he performs throughout the film so often that I was hoping against hope that he would be sucked into the earth’s molten core.
But let me grant credit where it’s due: “2012” did entertain in a dismal fashion, energizing me enough to brave the evening news and the PBS NewsHour for at least one more evening of dismay.


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